How to plan the rehearsal dinner

So you’ve got down all of the details for your wedding. Your maid of honor is taking care of the shower. You’ve scoped out every minute thing. But have you planned the rehearsal dinner? After all, you don’t want to make a wedding planning mistake!

What exactly is it?

A rehearsal dinner for a relatively informal meal after a wedding rehearsal. It takes place the night before the actual wedding ceremony, and is a chance for the wedding party to get to know each other. It is also a chance for the bride and groom to thank all of the main people who have helped them out during the wedding planning.

Should you have one?

In a short word, yes, though you don’t have to. Since everyone will be visiting, people will want a break, and you’re going to have dinner at some point anyway, why not have it with your close family and friends? It’ll also give everyone a bit of time to relax.

Who pays for it?

Traditionally the groom’s parents pay, but often couples include this in their overall planning budget. Both parents can also host it together. Couples can also use this as a general thank you. If you areĀ  paying for it, but can’t afford something extravagant, don’t worry about it. It doesn’t have to be a grand formal event. Instead, opt for a relaxed barbecue in your own backyard, or head over to a local park for a picnic, cookout, and games.

Who plans it?

Again, traditionally the groom’s mother plans this one. Ask her if she wants to, but if not, take over it yourself.

So what goes on here?

At a rehearsal dinner, there is (obviously) a dinner. The bride and groom can also take the time to thank their families and friends and toast them and the wedding party. There are often many informal toasts over the course of the evening. If the family, friends, and wedding party doesn’t know each other well, plan a few ice breaking activities, show a slide show, have a backyard BBQ… no matter what you do, just relax and have fun! This is also generally the time where you would give your bridesmaids and groomsmen their gifts if you’re not having a lunch or brunch specifically with them.

Do I send out invitations?

Send out invitations to the rehearsal dinner a few days after you send the actual wedding invitation. These can be simple invitations, even just printed out on your home computer. Don’t worry about the formalities with this one.

Should I invite guests from out of town?

If there are guests that are down for the weekend of the wedding, but not involved in the wedding party or a close relative, it is your call. Typically, the rehearsal dinner is just for the wedding party and immediate family, but things have changed. Though it is a nice gesture to involve everyone, it isn’t necessary. Instead, put together a package for them — things to do, restaurants in the area — so they can have some fun when they are down (check out our blog for things to do in the Victoria and Vancouver areas). Plan your rehearsal dinner at your venue of choice, then plan to meet up with them after if they’d like, perhaps at a pub for a drink and snacks.

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